The Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) is a Department of Immigration and Citizenship funded program designed to help humanitarian entrants rebuild their lives in Australia.
Mission Australia recruits, trains and supports volunteers who assist newly settled entrants. Volunteers work alongside HSS’s newly arrived refugee and migrant clients to help families develop independent living skills and make connections to their new community.
This may be through assisting with access to various government and community services, finding appropriate local religious and community groups, playgroups and educational classes; demystifying unfamiliar social and cultural norms; explaining unfamiliar systems such as public transport, road and traffic rules, ATMs, Centrelink and household appliances.
Volunteers are also essential to help families and individuals practice conversational English.
Volunteer Coordinator Jean Rennie explains that the service is particularly in need of more men to help newly settled refugee males from Afghanistan.
“The activities to engage in are varied, but are all underpinned by the need to increase language ability,” Jean says. “Our clients are really keen to practice their language skills so that they can work.”
Currently there are small group sessions running at Mission Australia’s office at Newcastle West, facilitated by volunteers, to help their clients set up email accounts, write resumes and seek work online. A social beach volleyball game and barbecue will be held on 2 September.
Days and times for volunteering are flexible and can be negotiated between the client and volunteer. The investment of time is about one to two hours per week for six to eight weeks.
Volunteers make a positive contribution to social inclusion in our increasingly diverse community, and play a part in building confidence and independence in families adapting to a new environment.
For more information, please contact Mission Australia Humanitarian Settlement Services on 02 4033 4908 or email RennieJ@missionaustralia.com.au.